Your pregnancy at 20 weeks
This article is part of a series of articles on pregnancy. Take a look at the other articles in the series:
At week 20, your bump will be growing faster than before.
Your bump will be growing by around half an inch each week from now on.
You may be noticing the following symptoms:
- nails that grow faster and may be stronger, although some women find they are more brittle
- a fuller head of hair and possibly more hair on your body
- on-going indigestion and heartburn
- continued headaches, especially while spending time in overheated and stuffy environments
- faintness and dizziness, especially in a warm environment
- leg cramps
- swollen feet and ankles, due to water retention
Your belly button may protrude now and for the rest of your pregnancy.
Hormonal fluctuations will lead to breast changes throughout pregnancy.
During the second trimester, the breasts will be less sensitive, but they will be growing as the milk glands grow and fat deposits increase.
The skin on and around the nipples may darken in color.
Small bumps or white spots might also occur around the nipples. These are the glands of Montgomery. They produce an oily substance that stops the nipples from drying out.
The nipples may leak colostrum, a yellowish fluid. This is the first appearance of the "milk" that your baby will consume after birth. It will contain a high concentration of essential nutrients and antibodies.
Your baby is now the size of a cantaloupe, measuring approximately 6-6.5 inches from their crown to their rump and weighing nearly 10 oz.
Developments that are underway at around 20 weeks of pregnancy include the following:
- The brain is growing rapidly.
- Cartilage is converting to bone, skeleton hardens, bone marrow starts making blood cells.
- The eyebrows are forming.
- The uterus and ovaries are formed and eggs are developing, or the testicles descend.
- The arms and legs are in proportion with the body.
- By the end of week 19 to 21, the baby will be able to swallow.
The mother can feel the baby moving, and the baby can hear sounds.
Things to do: Fetal testing
At this stage, a scan may show whether your baby is a girl or boy.
Amniocentesis can also reveal the sex of the baby, but a doctor will only offer this procedure if the fetus faces a high risk of developing a health condition. The procedure presents a slight risk to the baby.
Speak with your healthcare provider to determine if genetic testing and other forms of prenatal screening are right for you, especially if there is any family history of a genetic health condition.
A doctor can diagnose a range of disorders before birth, including:
- cystic fibrosis
- Duchenne muscular dystrophy
- hemophilia A
- polycystic kidney disease
- Tay-Sachs disease
- spina bifida
- ultrasound scans
- alpha-fetoprotein test (AFP)
- chorionic villus sampling (CVS)
- percutaneous umbilical blood sampling
Some tests are more reliable than others.
Early diagnosis of a congenital medical problem can support preparation for the birth and take into account any special medical needs.
In some cases, it can enable doctors to administer treatment before delivery, such as in fetuses with spina bifida.
As your clothes tighten, you may also need to consider getting new maternity wear. There is a selection of maternity clothing available online or in stores.
Supporting bras are available for pregnancy, and they may also double up as nursing bras for breastfeeding after delivery. These are also available for purchase online.
If you have questions regarding your pregnancy, be sure to contact your healthcare provider.
Call your doctor if you are experiencing the following symptoms:
- vaginal bleeding or passage of tissue
- leaking vaginal fluid
- feeling faint or dizzy
- low blood pressure
- rectal pressure
- shoulder pain
- severe pelvic pain or cramping
Women have a higher risk of urinary tract infection during pregnancy. If you suspect an infection, speak with a healthcare provider about treatment.